For Verizon, Customer Experience Combines Data And Design Thinking

In April, Verizon joined the ranks of Apple, Samsung, Citi and other enterprises when it hired its first chief customer experience officer.

For the role, it tapped Disney and Capital One alum Scott Zimmer to help connect the dots between all channels that Verizon consumers come across.

Unlike CRM, which originated in the late ’90s as a database tool for sales reps to automate their leads, customer experience management later emerged to help companies oversee the life cycle of customer interactions.

“Certainly, omnichannel’s the buzzword, but the goal is to deeply understand how to best serve customers once and translate that experience across multiple touch points,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer’s role as Verizon’s conduit to the consumer falls somewhere between marketing and creative.

He spoke with AdExchanger about what a chief customer experience officer does and how the role is changing conventional marketing metrics.

AdExchanger: First, where does the chief customer experience officer sit in the Verizon org chart?

SCOTT ZIMMER: I report up to our CMO, Diego Scotti, and so does the rest of the classic marketing [organization], including advertising and brand management. One thing that’s unique about our approach is connecting everything a customer might learn about us when they’re a prospect to everything they might experience with us when they’re a customer. 

Customer experience management or “customer journeying” has always sounded utopic. What’s the biggest barrier to making it happen?

What you’ll see in a lot of cultures is these different organizations can be rivals, and from the customer’s perspective, they just want to have a single relationship with the brand. They don’t expect there to be any evolution or change between the marketing messages or the actual experience, so we’re trying to connect those dots.

Andrew McKechnie, who joined us from Apple [as chief creative officer in February to run Verizon’s new in-house agency], also reports in to Diego. He and I are in lockstep ensuring there is a single customer journey.

Where do you start?

I can only comment on where I’m starting, which is really looking to understand all of the aspects of the Verizon businesses and viewing those through the context of the customer lens, which has multiple touch points. It’s really a team effort. There are groups across Verizon who have worked for some time to deliver the best customer experience. And my role is to bring folks together and ensure we’re creating a cohesive experience.

Do you work with Verizon’s agencies?

There’s two sides of our agency relationships as it pertains to the CMO organization. One side is advertising and paid media spend, which John [Nitti, Verizon’s chief media officer,] is deeply involved with. And the other side is the relationships we manage as we build out various aspects of customer experience, which is my team’s scope.

Why are enterprises doubling down on chief experience officers and emphasizing design thinking?

I think it’s part of a cultural evolution happening in a lot of American companies right now and something Verizon has a lot of respect for. The key thing about design thinking is it starts with customer empathy and really understanding where your customer is before determining the best way to evolve the experience.

It’s an area where I have a lot of depth and experience. We already had an emphasis on design thinking, and I’m just looking to catalyze it even further.

What does your team do?

Tools like journey mapping are really important because they help us ensure the experience a customer has with us is cohesive. Design thinking can really help when we’re thinking about how to evolve a touch point or channel to serve our customers better.

And, certainly, measurement is something you’ll hear a lot about from companies that are leaning into customer experience. While it’s typical in businesses to have strong measurement around marketing ROI, improving measurement around experience ROI is a big focus of my new team.

What does experience measurement consist of?

We’re identifying new ways to measure the impact we’re having with customers beyond the classic thing like sales. For instance, a customer may come in to get help or for general knowledge at one of our new next-gen retail stores, so we’re trying to develop ways to understand how we gauge the success of those endeavors in addition to classic business metrics.

Interview has been condensed and edited.

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